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UK government unveils Digital Economy Bill

The UK government has unveiled its Digital Economy Bill which will offer all citizens the legal right to superfast broadband and will make age verification a requirement for viewing websites with pornographic content.

On Tuesday, the bill was read for the first time in the House of Commons. It will now be debated over the course of the next several months before it becomes law. The government believes that the Digital Economy Bill will go into law some time during spring 2017.

One provision that stands out in the bill is that consumers and businesses will now have a legal right to high-speed broadband thanks to a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation. The government is currently planning to set a minimum speed of 10Mbs for the service.

Consumers will also be able to switch their internet service provider much more easily under the Digital Economy Bill. Telecom companies will now be in charge of orchestrating a consumers move between itself and another company which will take a great deal of stress off of consumers who had previously been solely responsible for switching carriers.

The bill also wants public sector organisations to utilise data better by opening key datasets for sharing. The government believes this could help tackle fraud and debt as well as improve the delivery of services. Organisations will be required to release information for research purposes when requested to help ensure the anonymity of data collected on the public.

In a move designed to prevent minors from accessing inappropriate content, pornographic sites will be required to obtain age verification from their visitors.

Digital economy minister, Ed Vaizey explained how the Digital Economy Bill will help the UK's digital development continue to move forward, saying: “We want the UK to be a place where technology ceaselessly transforms the economy, society and government.

"The UK has always been at the forefront of technological change, and the measures in the Digital Economy Bill provide the necessary framework to make sure we remain world leaders.”

Image credit: Blue Orange Studio / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.